From Publishers Weekly
"A professional friend of mine," writes de Marneffe, "says that every time she sees a new book about mothers... she feels mingled dread and hope as a question instantly pops into her mind: 'Is it for me or against me?'-"i.e., will the book say that children benefit more from the consistent care given by stay-at-home mothers or from the financial prerogatives provided by working mothers? De Marneffe, a clinical psychologist who divides her time between work and caring for her three children, wants to reframe the question. What, she asks, does the mother want? What if a woman raises her children because she finds it fulfilling? Rarely, purports de Marneffe, does the "public discourse take account of the embodied, aching desire to be with their children that many mothers feel." De Marneffe studies, among other things, feminism (which, she says, fought for the right to have children but neglected the right to care for children), the feelings of ambivalence and pleasure in raising children and the role of other care providers (including fathers) as she strives to evaluate a woman's need to nurture her children. By examining both sides-the corporate woman who yearns to be home with her children, and the full-time mom who finds the boredom oppressive-de Marneffe avoids sounding judgmental. Her book, with its academic tone, isn't light reading, and many of her ideas taken individually are controversial (e.g., her view that "domestic work complements caring for children"). But she offers a fascinating analysis that's a welcome addition to the dialogues about motherhood.
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De Marneffe brings her experiences and perspectives as a psychologist, feminist, and mother to this absorbing look at the enormous personal pleasure that women derive from mothering. Citing the political, cultural, and social factors that have devalued motherhood, de Marneffe notes the reluctance to explore maternal desire--as common wisdom would have it, motherhood
don't belong in the same phrase. There is fear that discussing maternal desire will feed old notions about women's nature and justify restrictions of their rights. The price of that reluctance is a lost opportunity to understand women more deeply, de Marneffe asserts. She explores iconic images of motherhood, from the sacrificial mom to the supermom, and examines motherhood as an active and transforming experience. She offers insights into the cost of juggling the obligations of careers and day care and how women reconcile their deepest inner desires with economic and other necessities. This is a stirring book that celebrates women's love for their children and mothering while also supporting their interest in careers and other pursuits. Vanessa BushCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved